UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has underscored the need for flexibility to achieve the required consensus among all United Nations member states to overcome the stalemate in the long-running negotiations to restructure the UN Security Council. “The admittedly slow pace of progress in Security Council reform is not due to any deficiency in the process or procedures,” Ambassador Munir Akram said Wednesday in a resumed session of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) aimed at making the 15-member Council more effective, representative and accountable. The reason, he added, was “the inflexibility in the positions of a few individual states which have come into these negotiations with a pre-determined end goal of fulfilling their national ambitions to secure an elevated and privileged position within the Security Council, regardless of the principle of sovereign equality of states”, obviously referring to the relentless campaign by India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan, known as G-4, for permanent seats in an expanded Council. Full-scale negotiations to reform the Security Council began in the General Assembly in February 2009 on five key areas, the categories of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Security Council, and working methods of the council and its relationship with the General Assembly. Progress towards restructuring the Security Council remains blocked as India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan continue pushing for permanent seats in the Council, while the Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group firmly opposes any additional permanent members. As a compromise, UfC has proposed a new category of members, not permanent members, with a longer duration in terms and a possibility to get re-elected. The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members; Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States, and 10 non-permanent members elected to two-year terms. In his remarks, Ambassador Akram said that the UfC had demonstrated the “greatest flexibility” in the search for reforming the Council that can command the widest possible agreement of all UN member states, in short, a “consensus”. “The UfC has continued to demonstrate this flexible approach and willingness to explore imaginative ways in which to reconcile the divergent official positions of various groups and states on Security Council reform,” the Pakistani envoy added. Noting that the IGN has had constructive discussions this year on the 5 clusters of issues relating to reform, he said there were certain broad areas of “convergence” as well as continuing and important areas of “divergence” which remain to be overcome. “There is a general agreement that the issues under the 5 clusters are all interlinked,” Ambassador Akram said. “We will be able to begin formulating a text on Security Council reform once we have reached agreement on the ‘principles’ of reform in all 5 clusters,” he said, adding that progress towards agreement on the main principles or elements of reform can be made through open and honest discussions within the IGN. “We have made progress; and we must continue to utilise the IGN process to build on the areas of convergence and overcome the points of divergence,” the Pakistani envoy said while cautioning that any precipitate moves to so-called ‘text-based’ negotiations will ‘lock in’ positions and sharpen the differences. The UfC’s reluctance to “formalise” the IGN process as proposed by some, through text-based negotiations, record-keeping, rules of procedure. was not due to any aversion to negotiations, he said, adding that it was because of our conviction that such “formalisation” will lead to a deadlock and a breakdown of the IGN process. “The UfC remains committed to fully utilising the IGN process to continue to build on the areas of convergence and reducing the areas of divergence in an honest, open and transparent manner,” Ambassador Akram said in conclusion.